President Barack Obama cut right to the chase when the topic of racism came up during his just-released interview for Marc Maron's WTF podcast. Asked to weigh in with his thoughts in the wake of last week's shootings at the Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C., the commander in chief spoke frankly about the problems facing our country, even dropping the N-word to make his point.
"I always tell young people in particular, 'Do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you lived through being a black man in the 1950s, '60s, '70s,'" he began. "It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact."
That said, we're not yet a post-racial society. "What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — you know, that casts a long shadow, and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on," he told Maron, host of WTF With Marc Maron. "We're not cured of it. Racism — we're not cured of it."
He continued: "And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n—er in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."
Earlier in the hour-long podcast, POTUS spoke directly about the Charleston massacre on June 17, which left nine dead.
"The point I made in the immediate aftermath of the killing was that I've done this way too often," he said, echoing his remarks from June 18. "During the course of my presidency, it feels as if a couple times a year I end up having to speak to the country and speak to a particular community about a devastating loss."
"The grieving that the country feels is real. The sympathy, obviously…But I think part of the point that I wanted to make was that it's not enough just to feel bad," he said. "There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely. One of those actions that we could take would be to enhance some basic commonsense gun-safety laws, that by the way, the majority of gun owners support."
On the subject of mass killings, he added, "This is unique to our country. There's no other advanced nation on earth that tolerates multiple shootings on a regular basis and considers it normal. And to some degree, that's what's happened in this country. It's become something that we expect."
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